High standards demand

15th of October 2010

An update on the story in September's edition of ECJ from German reporter Thomas Schulte-Marxloh.

In the last issue we reported a supposed lack of hygiene conscience in the pharmaceutical department of the ‘Mainzer Universitätsklinik’ (University hospital of Mainz). Three babies died after the application of bacteria contaminated infusions which were prepared in the hospital's own pharmacy department. The individually composed infusions consisted of several basic ingredients which were delivered from an external supplier.

Considering the high standards of the pharmaceutical industry, most experts believed that the delivered basic ingredients were flawless and the contamination happened in the hospital. Some other hospitals, however, changed their supplier and used other basic ingredients.

Klaus-Peter Mieth, prosecuting attorney in charge, summarised his investigation: “Based on the present investigations, the public attorney’s office does not believe - as supposed before - that the infusions were contaminated during the production process.” Instead the prosecuting attorney believes a hair-line crack in one of the bottles which contained the basic ingredients to be the reason for the contamination of the infusions. In the end, however, the fatal material defect of a medicinal bottle triggered an excited public discussion and set the stage for many politicians to demand higher hygiene standards in hospitals.

Hygiene is also the topic of the Hygiene Report 2010, published by SCA (Swedish supplier of hygiene products). The survey evaluates the answers of 500 representative people per country (apart from Germany: Australia, China, France, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the USA) and was carried out in September 2009.

The hygiene report explains that the pandemic swine flu in 2009 has influenced the hygiene conscience in Germany. Since then 90 per cent of the German interviewees wash their hands more often, and 60 per cent think about hygiene frequently. The report believes that fear changes habit – today three of 10 Germans use antibacterial soap, and six out of 10 behave more cautiously when meeting other people.

The German public became more hygiene conscience particularly in terms of public lavatories (55 per cent), other public places (41 per cent), public transport (36 per cent), restaurants (34 per cent), other people’s hygiene (30 per cent) and their own hygiene (29 per cent).

The survey also takes a look at school lavatories and lists problems which all countries have in common like dirty toilets and bad odour, damages, insufficient standards (not enough toilet paper, no soap, no warm water etc), no privacy (damaged doors, not screened from views), and violent (elder) schoolmates near the lavatory. 68 per cent of the German interviewees believe it to be important that schools keep a high hygiene standard, 46 per cent are convinced that a lack of hygiene can have a negative influence on the learning aptitude of children.

When asked in which sectors the hygiene standards should be improved, 80 per cent of Germans mentioned ‘public lavatories’, followed by ‘school and kindergarten’ (43 per cent), ‘other public places’ (38 per cent), hospitals (27 per cent), restaurants (26 per cent), public transport (24 per cent) and day-care centres or nursing homes (14 per cent).


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